Spotlight on Innovation
"I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn." - Einstein
Essex County Vocational Technical School District is creating an environment at its Newark Tech campus in which individualized, flexible pathways foster active learning, critical thinking, and original thought. Traditional high school structures often create silos, in which a teacher instructs a cohort of students, 25 at a time, in a particular area of study. Teachers are asked to push a diverse group of students through a set curriculum at a set pace toward a set of prescribed outcomes. In contrast, the Technology Enhanced Active Learning Center (TEAL Center) will be an innovation hub, designed for student-driven learning, active communication and cross-curricular collaboration.
In fall 2013, the 3,300 square foot TEAL Center will accommodate fifty students in their senior year, in modular workspaces that allow for various configurations. It will transform the school day from a regimen guided by a teacher to an independent learning process. Throughout the course of the day, a student may participate in online courses, group projects, one-on-one tutoring or a video-conference with practitioners in the field—all depending on where she is in her individualized learning plan. Regular meetings with a teacher will help each student set realistic goals and monitor their pace and progress. Flexible time will allow a student to advance at her own pace, while spending additional time on those subjects that she finds particularly challenging or interesting. Group work will set the stage for peer-to-peer mentoring and collaboration. Enabled by one-to-one technology, the TEAL Center will allow Newark Tech students to learn independently within a dynamic, supportive environment.
- Todd Menadier, Essex County Vocational Technical Schools